|New York Liberty|
|2023 New York Liberty season|
|History||New York Liberty|
|Location||Brooklyn, New York|
|Team colors||Seafoam green, black, white|
|General manager||Jonathan Kolb|
|Head coach||Sandy Brondello|
|Conference titles||3 (1999, 2000, 2002)|
The New York Liberty are an American professional basketball team based in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The Liberty compete in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) as part of the league's Eastern Conference. The team was founded in 1997 and is one of the eight original franchises of the league. The team is owned by Joe Tsai, the majority owner of the Brooklyn Nets. The team's home games are played at Barclays Center.
The Liberty have qualified for the WNBA Playoffs in seventeen of its twenty-six years. The franchise has been home to many well-known players such as Teresa Weatherspoon, Rebecca Lobo, Becky Hammon, Leilani Mitchell, Essence Carson, Cappie Pondexter, Tina Charles, and the team's first-ever No.1 overall Draft pick Sabrina Ionescu. The Liberty have three conference championships and have played in the WNBA Finals four times, falling to the Houston Comets in 1997, 1999, and 2000, and losing to the Los Angeles Sparks in 2002. They have the most appearances in the WNBA Finals without a championship and are the only original franchise in the WNBA without a championship.
Prior to the team's first season, to avoid potential trademark infringement, the team purchased the trademarks of the defunct Liberty Basketball Association.
When the WNBA opened in 1997, the Liberty were one of the first teams to choose a player, and they signed college superstar Rebecca Lobo (UConn) to a contract. Lobo was a starter for two seasons, but was injured in 1999. Her injuries eventually led to her retirement several seasons later. Point guard Teresa Weatherspoon emerged as a star, and the Liberty made it to the 1997 championship game, where the team lost to the Houston Comets. In 1999, they added Crystal Robinson with the 6th overall pick and returned to the WNBA Finals, where they again faced the Comets. In Game 2, Teresa Weatherspoon's halfcourt shot at the buzzer gave the Liberty a one-point road win that tied the series at a game apiece. However, the Liberty lost the third game of the series and the Comets became champions for a third straight time.
In 2000, the Liberty traded for Tari Phillips who blossomed in New York and made four straight All-Star teams. In 2001, Weatherspoon became the WNBA's all-time assist leader. Teamed with Robinson, Phillips and an emerging Sue Wicks, who was once a back-up to Lobo at forward but made the 2000 All-Star game, Weatherspoon and the Liberty subsequently returned to the finals in 2000 and 2002, but lost once again to the Comets and to the Los Angeles Sparks, respectively. The Liberty also advanced to the WNBA Eastern Conference Finals in 2001.
The 2003 season marked a transition for the Liberty and with team leader Teresa Weatherspoon's WNBA career winding down, fan favorite Becky Hammon emerged as a star player. The 2004 season saw Hammon replacing Weatherspoon as the team's starting point guard.
The Liberty played six of their home games during the 2004 season at Radio City Music Hall as Madison Square Garden was hosting the 2004 Republican National Convention. These games marked the first time Radio City had hosted a professional sporting event since the Roy Jones Jr. boxing match held in 1999.
With team leader Tari Phillips being signed away to the Houston Comets, Ann Wauters emerged as a force at the team's starting center position in 2005. However, she was unfortunately injured midway through the season. The loss of Wauters was felt as the team was swept two games to none by the Indiana Fever in the first round of the playoffs.
The Liberty had a poor 2006 season, winning only 11 games, the fewest in franchise history.
At the beginning of the 2007 WNBA season, the team traded Becky Hammon to the San Antonio Silver Stars for Jessica Davenport, a first round pick in the 2007 WNBA Draft. They also acquired center Janel McCarville through the dispersal draft associated with the dissolution of the Charlotte Sting. The 2007 Liberty started out 5–0, then lost 7 straight games, then rallied at the end of the season to get the last playoff spot by winning 3 out of their last 4 games, beating the Washington Mystics on the tiebreaker of head-to-head record. In the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Liberty, as huge underdogs, faced the defending champion Detroit Shock in a best-of-three series. The Liberty defeated the Shock by winning Game 1 in New York. In Games 2 and 3 the Liberty lost both games to the Shock in Detroit, 76–73 and 71–70 (OT) respectively.
In 2008, the Liberty drafted former Rutgers shooting guard Essence Carson and former North Carolina forward Erlana Larkins, and signed former Utah point guard Leilani Mitchell during the preseason. Despite having the youngest average age of any WNBA team, the Liberty managed to win 19 regular season games in 2008, to defeat the Connecticut Sun in the first round of playoff action, and to come within two points of defeating the Detroit Shock in the third and last game of the Eastern Conference Finals. Again, the Detroit series entailed a Liberty victory at home in Game 1, followed by narrow defeats away in Games 2 and 3. The 2008 season also featured the "Liberty Outdoor Classic", the first ever professional regular season basketball game to be played outdoors, on July 19 at Arthur Ashe Stadium of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The Indiana Fever defeated the Liberty in the Outdoor Classic.
In the 2009 WNBA Draft, the Liberty selected local favorite Kia Vaughn from Rutgers. With a solid core group, the Liberty looked to be a contender in the East yet again.
In the 2009 season, however, they never proved to be a contender and the team fired head coach Pat Coyle. To replace Coyle, the Liberty hired then-Liberty assistant coach Anne Donovan on an interim basis. Despite the coaching change, the franchise continued to struggle, finishing 13–21, their second worst record in franchise history.
The New York Liberty fared better in 2010, during Donovan's first and only full season as head coach. Led by newly signed high scorer Cappie Pondexter (formerly of the Phoenix Mercury) and the 2010 Most Improved Player Award winner Leilani Mitchell, the team made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost to the Atlanta Dream.
The team had high hopes for 2011, after the hiring of former WNBA champion head coach John Whisenant. Janel McCarville did not report to training camp, seeking time with her family, and as such, was suspended for the duration of the 2011 season. This caused division and discord within the New York Liberty fanbase. Kia Vaughn was unexpectedly thrust into the role of starting Center.
The Liberty were originally scheduled to be displaced from their usual home court due to renovations at Madison Square Garden scheduled to begin in 2009. However, the renovation plans were delayed, and the Liberty played at the Garden in 2009 and 2010. The Liberty ended up playing in the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, for their 2011, 2012, and 2013 seasons while the renovations were ongoing.
Pondexter and Plenette Pierson, along with improved play from Vaughn, allowed New York to be competitive early in the 2011 season. The team went into the All-Star break in third place in the Eastern Conference. In August, Sidney Spencer was traded to the Phoenix Mercury in exchange for Kara Braxton. By maintaining a fairly even standard of play, the Liberty made their way into the WNBA Playoffs. However, the Liberty fell to the Indiana Fever in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
On May 5, 2015, the Liberty hired Thomas as Team President overseeing all business and basketball operations of the franchise. Under Thomas' leadership as team president and the coaching staff led by Bill Laimbeer as head coach, the Liberty finished first in the Eastern Conference during the 2015 season.
On August 2, 2015, during halftime at the game against the Seattle Storm, the New York Liberty inducted WNBA legend Becky Hammon into the Liberty's Ring of Honor. Thomas presented Hammon with her ring during the induction ceremony at Madison Square Garden. Hammon is currently the head coach of the WNBA's Las Vegas Aces.
After qualifying for the 2016 WNBA Playoffs, the Liberty lost to the Phoenix Mercury in the second round.
In November 2017, the Madison Square Garden Company and James L. Dolan announced they were actively looking to sell the franchise. After not immediately finding a buyer, MSG relocated most of the Liberty's 2018 home games to Westchester County Center in nearby White Plains, New York, the home of MSG's NBA G League team the Westchester Knicks, while still continuing to pursue a sale.
On January 23, 2019, the Liberty were sold to Joseph Tsai, co-founder of the Alibaba Group, a Chinese internet company, who then owned 49% of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets. Isiah Thomas was relieved of his duties a month later, on February 21, 2019. During the 2019 season, the Liberty played two games in Brooklyn at the Nets' home of the Barclays Center, with the rest still in White Plains. Later that year, Tsai became the sole owner of the Nets and the Barclays Center. For the 2020 season, Tsai relocated the Liberty to Brooklyn on a full-time basis.
The Liberty were major players in the 2020 WNBA draft, entering that draft with three first-round picks plus two in the early second round. Shortly before the draft, they traded former league MVP Tina Charles to the Washington Mystics in a deal that also involved the Dallas Wings. They chose Sabrina Ionescu as the first pick, with Megan Walker and Jazmine Jones selected later in that round. The team also introduced a new logo, featuring a simplified version of their Statue of Liberty branding. The color black was also made one of the primary colors, echoing the aesthetic of their NBA brother squad, the Brooklyn Nets.
The Liberty began the 2020 season, held in a "bubble" in Bradenton, Florida, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with seven rookies on their opening-night roster. The team suffered a major blow in their third game, in which Ionescu suffered a severe ankle sprain that ultimately ended her season. The Liberty ended the season with a league-worst 2–20 record. Despite the lack of wins, one of the first-year players, 12th overall pick Jazmine Jones, was named to the Associated Press and WNBA's All-Rookie teams.
The Liberty made major splashes during the 2021 offseason. Prior to its first season as full-time tenants of Barclays Center, the Liberty added WNBA champions Natasha Howard and Sami Whitcomb in a multi-team trade that sent Kia Nurse and Megan Walker to the Phoenix Mercury  and signed Betnijah Laney, the league's 2020 Most Improved Player Award winner. The team then added Michaela Onyenwere and DiDi Richards in the 2021 WNBA Draft. Laney would represent the Liberty at the 2021 WNBA All-Star Game while Onyenwere won the Associated Press' Rookie of the Year Award. New York finished the year with a 12–20 record but the 10-game improvement in the win column was enough to push the team into the WNBA Playoffs for the first time since 2017. Seeded eighth, the Liberty put up a valiant effort against No. 5 Phoenix in the opening but fell by an 83–82 final.
On December 6, 2021, the Liberty and head coach Walt Hopkins Jr. parted ways. The team would hire former Phoenix head coach Sandy Brondello in his place just over a month later on January 7, 2022. On the roster, the team brought in Stefanie Dolson of the defending champion Chicago Sky and drafted Nyara Sabally fifth overall, though the latter would miss her whole rookie season with an injury. In Brondello's first season at the helm, the team was forced to overcome an early injury to Laney and got off to a 1–7 start. But the All-Star efforts of Ionescu and Howard kept the team afloat and they would end the season on a three-game winning streak to secure its second consecutive playoff berth.
|Season||Team||Conference||Regular season||Playoff Results||Head coach|
|New York Liberty|
|1997||1997||East||2nd||17||11||.607||Won WNBA Semifinals (Phoenix, 1–0)
Lost WNBA Finals (Houston, 0–1)
|1998||1998||East||3rd||18||12||.600||Did not qualify||Nancy Darsch|
|1999||1999||East||1st||18||14||.563||Received a bye for the Conference Semifinals
Won Conference Finals (Charlotte, 2–1)
Lost WNBA Finals (Houston, 1–2)
|2000||2000||East||1st||20||12||.625||Won Conference Semifinals (Washington, 2–0)
Won Conference Finals (Cleveland, 2–1)
Lost WNBA Finals (Houston, 0–2)
|2001||2001||East||2nd||21||11||.656||Won Conference Semifinals (Miami, 2–1)
Lost Conference Finals (Charlotte, 1–2)
|2002||2002||East||1st||18||14||.563||Won Conference Semifinals (Indiana, 2–1)
Won Conference Finals (Washington, 2–1)
Lost WNBA Finals (Los Angeles, 0–2)
|2003||2003||East||6th||16||18||.471||Did not qualify||Richie Adubato|
|2004||2004||East||2nd||18||16||.529||Won Conference Semifinals (Detroit, 2–1)
Lost Conference Finals (Connecticut, 0–2)
|R. Adubato (7–9)|
P. Coyle (11–7)
|2005||2005||East||3rd||18||16||.529||Lost Conference Semifinals (Indiana, 0–2)||Pat Coyle|
|2006||2006||East||5th||11||23||.324||Did not qualify||Pat Coyle|
|2007||2007||East||4th||16||18||.471||Lost Conference Semifinals (Detroit, 1–2)||Pat Coyle|
|2008||2008||East||3rd||19||15||.559||Won Conference Semifinals (Connecticut, 2–1)
Lost Conference Finals (Detroit, 1–2)
|2009||2009||East||7th||13||21||.382||Did not qualify||P. Coyle (6–11)|
A. Donovan (7–10)
|2010||2010||East||2nd||22||12||.647||Won Conference Semifinals (Indiana, 2–1)
Lost Conference Finals (Atlanta, 0–2)
|2011||2011||East||4th||19||15||.559||Lost Conference Semifinals (Indiana, 1–2)||John Whisenant|
|2012||2012||East||4th||15||19||.441||Lost Conference Semifinals (Connecticut, 0–2)||John Whisenant|
|2013||2013||East||5th||11||23||.324||Did not qualify||Bill Laimbeer|
|2014||2014||East||5th||15||19||.441||Did not qualify||Bill Laimbeer|
|2015||2015||East||1st||23||11||.676||Won Conference Semifinals (Washington, 2–1)
Lost Conference Finals (Indiana 1–2)
|2016||2016||East||1st||21||13||.618||Lost Second Round (Phoenix 0–1)||Bill Laimbeer|
|2017||2017||East||1st||22||12||.647||Lost Second Round (Washington 0–1)||Bill Laimbeer|
|2018||2018||East||5th||7||27||.206||Did not qualify||Katie Smith|
|2019||2019||East||5th||10||24||.294||Did not qualify||Katie Smith|
|2020||2020||East||6th||2||20||.091||Did not qualify||Walt Hopkins|
|2021||2021||East||3rd||12||20||.375||Lost First Round (Phoenix 0–1)||Walt Hopkins|
|2022||2022||East||4th||16||20||.444||Lost First Round (Chicago 1–2)||Sandy Brondello|
|Regular season||418||436||.489||4 Conference Championships|
|Playoffs||28||39||.418||0 WNBA Championships, 4 Losses|
|New York Liberty statistics|
WNBA roster page
|Nationality||Name||Years pro||Last played||Drafted|
|New York Liberty honored numbers|
|New York Liberty head coaches|
|W||L||Win %||G||W||L||Win %||G|
|Regular season all-time attendance|
|Year||Average||High||Low||Sellouts||Total for year||WNBA game average|
|2020||Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the season was played in Bradenton, Florida, without fans.|
Liberty games are broadcast on the YES Network, which is a regional sports network based in New York City. Previously, games had been broadcast on MSG Network. Broadcasters for the Liberty games are Mike Crispino, Rosalyn Gold-Onwude and Julianne Viani.
Some Liberty games are broadcast nationally on CBS, CBS Sports Network, Ion Television, ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC.